Saturday, 26 April 2014
It feels unreal that today is our last day in Debrecen. In the past three days we have had nice experiences, interesting discussions and we have learned a lot. The day starts early today. At the university the staff from Hungary and the Netherlands deliver their presentations. The Hungarian biblical scientist Elöd Hodossy-Takacs explains on the basis of a Biblical study with passages from Acts that ‘unity in diversity’ of clerical communities was not only important, but also a natural element, both in the past and in the present. Our own teacher, Heleen Zorgdrager, elucidates seven models for clerical unity from her systematic theological background. Our other teacher, Leon van de Broeke, approaches the theme of community and diversity from the discipline of church order. We conclude the educational part of the trip with a discussion with teaching staff and PhD-students.
Later in the afternoon, we visit the student festival of Debrecen’s theological faculty. There are sports matches, creative workshops and there’s lots of food and drinks. What impressed us most is the ‘invisible theatre’. Someone leads you blindfolded by the hand to a room. In the room you are totally overwhelmed by Biblical texts in which God speaks, personal address and singing. I look upon this experience as a wonderful imitation of a conversion process. Other students interpret this as surrender, certainty of faith or even as a vocation. We are totally absorbed by it and let our thoughts ripen during the service at the university.
We round off the day with a goodbye dinner in a restaurant with our Hungarian friends. We’re having a good time and thank the Hungarians with speeches and typically Dutch gifts. Saying goodbye is never nice. We have built up a special bond with the students here. We have greatly appreciated their hospitality, their care and attention and their humour. During the evening walk from the restaurant back to our hotel we think back to the events of the past four days. I have personally appreciated the time here in Hungary a great deal. I am surprised to see how close the protestant tradition in Hungary is to the protestant tradition in the Netherlands; but also where it differs unexpectedly, such as the thoughts on women in the profession. Most of all I appreciate how we Dutch students represent such a diverse clerical landscape, but how we get to know each other better during discussions in this respect, arrive at new insights and talk about faith in another manner. We can pack our suitcases with a feeling of contentment and prepare for the trip back home to the Netherlands.